Anthony Davis - Running Back - 1976 - University of Southern California
Running Back 5’10 190 lbs – 09-08-52 - The first million dollar man of the Canadian Football League.
Excerpt: HuddlingUp by Jeffrey Goodman,pg177-179,printed 1981Fitzhenry&WhitesideLtd.
Anthony Davis had an outstanding career at the University of Southern Californai and performed well in a brief fling in the World Football League. (Team owner Bill) Hodgson had told (General Manager J.I.) Albrecht that he wanted an excellent running back, “someone like Anthony Davis,” to help Jackson build an offence.
“Why not Anthony Davis then?” asked Albrecht, and Hodgson encouraged him to try. Albrecht knew Davis’s agent, Mike Trope, from his earlier signing of Johnny Rodgers. The NFL New York Jets, against who the Argos would be bidding, made Albrecht’s task an easy one. When Davis arrived in Toronto for contract discussions, Albrecht showed him an article in that day’s New York Times quoting Jets’ coach Charlier Winner as saying that Davis would have to prove himself before he could start in the Jets’ offensive backfield.
Money also talked of course. Davis received a $120,000 signing bonus and a five-year contract that would pay him $65,000 his first year and gradually increase to $100,000 for his last. Bonus clauses would provide a potential $30,000 a year extra. In fine Argo tradition, Davis was to become yet another costly flop. A major reason was that friction developed between Jackson and Davis and Jackson under he new setup, did not have the authority to release him.
Davis was used to offensive formations that helped make him a star elsewhere and expected Jackson to follow suit. Jackson would not budge because he was hired to make these decisions and would not be dictated to by a player. Davis, who was used to getting his own way, would not co-operate; he knew he had an ally in Albrecht who also wanted Jackson to alter his offensive formations to suit the players, especially Davis. Davis certainly did nothing to ease the tension. In fact, he had alienated Jackson beyond the point of reconciliation on the second day of training camp, refusing to partake in running laps in the bitter, rainy cold at St.Andrews College in Aurora, Ontario.
During the final game of the 1976 regular season, in a game against the TigerCats in Hamilton, Argo quarterback Matthew Reed, desperate to find an open receiver threw an incomplete pass to Davis. When Reed returned to the Argo bench, assistance coach Joe Moss told him never to throw the ball to Davis again. But, by then, it didn’t matter. The season was a write-off.
Hodgson knew that changes had to be made again. Davis made that somewhat easy by asking Hodgson to release him. Hodgson refused and said he would have to honour his contractual obligations, even if it meant serving as team waterboy. Davis came back and offered to buy his way out. Hodgson demanded that Davis repay all the signing bonus money he had received. Davis agreed, and fled the scene of a disaster he was instrumental in creating.
-Excerpt from Toronto Argonauts Media Guide 1976-
Davis played for the Southern California Sun of the now defunct World Football League in 1975 and led the W.F.L. in rushing with 1,200 yards on 239 carries and scoring 16 touchdowns at the time of its demise. As a receiver he caught 40 passes for 381 yards and one touchdown while on kick-off return, he ran back nine for 235 yards and one major score. In all, he scored 18 in the W.F.L. for 133 points.
His 16 touchdowns for rushing over 12 games is a W.F.L. record. As a diversion, he also played the role of passer on occasion and completed 4 of 11 attempts for 102 yards and one touchdown.
In his senior year (1974) he was a unanimous All-American selection for a third time winning national acclamation in his junior and sophomore years. Davis was also an All-Coast All-Star for three season in the Pacific Eight Conference and finished second in the voting for the coveted national Heisman Trophy in his final year. In 1974, he lifted his team from a 24-7 halftime defecit to defeat Notre Dame 55-24 including scoring on a 102-yard kickoff return. He was also the first west coast player to rush for more than 1,000 yards in three consecutive seasons – 1,191 in 1972; 1,112 in 1973 and 1,469 in 1974. In all he carried the ball 784 time in league play for 3,772 yards and 44 touchdowns.
He was a second round choice of the N.F.L. New York Jets in the 1975 draft.
A native of Dallas, Texas, Davis has appeared in movies and television documentaries as well as doing commercials. He has been a model for men’s fashions. During his college football career he appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated three times.
A connoisseur of vintage automobiles, Davis has two Rolls Royces and two restored Cadillacs.
HOF: When you went to the Toronto Argonauts what was the situation?
AD: They were too happy to have me. I was getting acclimated to the system. I held the kickoff return yardage record for them- and I missed the last six games of the year. It wasn't conducive to my ability. In fact it was so bad up there, that a guy named J.I. Albrecht, the personal manager for the Patriots, complained to the owner of the team. There was a guy named Russ Jackson, who was supposed to be one of the best players in Canadian football - so you're dealing with that reputation. I was called an "import", the "pompous american"- the first guy to sign a million dollar CFL contract, so they had a problem with me anyway. And then there is the quota system up there, 15 Canadians and 17 Americans. The city was great. The football was disgusting. When I got hurt, that was the downfall of my career. That's why I got out of football. I hurt my back and never should've played, waited and got healthy. I should've sat out a year.